The latest from Managing Editor Pattrick Smellie

Pattrick was judged New Zealand's best overall columnist and business columnist of the year at the Voyager 2021 Media Awards. He has more than 35 years’ experience reporting and working in New Zealand politics and the commercial sector. A former Press Gallery chairman, he is an award-winning journalist and has worked for titles including The Dominion, The Press, Sunday Star-Times and National Business Review. He was the first NZ correspondent for The Australian and co-founded BusinessDesk in 2008.

Labour calls for monetary policy to expand goals beyond inflation control
Pattrick Smellie | Tue, 23 Aug 2016

Aug. 23 (BusinessDesk) - The Reserve Bank of New Zealand should be allowed to target goals other than price stability, says the Labour Party finance spokesman, Grant Robertson. His comments follow a speech today by RBNZ governor Graeme Wheeler in which Wheeler sought to answer...

FIRST CUT: Mercury delivers special dividend on 2.3% operating earnings lift
Pattrick Smellie | Mon, 22 Aug 2016

By Pattrick Smellie Aug. 23 (BusinessDesk) - Mercury, the electricity generator and distributor formerly known as Mighty River Power, has delivered a 2.3 percent lift in operating earnings and declared a special dividend, reflecting its limited capital needs and the sale of su...

Bluescope seeking another A$15M of annual savings from NZ Steel operations
Pattrick Smellie | Sun, 21 Aug 2016

By Pattrick Smellie Aug. 22 (BusinessDesk) - Australian steel manufacturer Bluescope is seeking another A$15 million a year in savings from its New Zealand operations, which broke even on an operating earnings basis, after depreciation and amortisation, in the latest financial...

Permanent independent hearings panel proposed for all urban planning
Pattrick Smellie | Thu, 18 Aug 2016

By Pattrick Smellie Aug. 19 (BusinessDesk) - The Productivity Commission recommends creating a permanent independent hearings panel like the one that cut through local politics to settle Auckland’s Unitary Plan, for the whole country. The commission has published the interi...

NZ seeks credibility in the rush for early climate change pact ratification
Pattrick Smellie | Wed, 17 Aug 2016

By Pattrick Smellie Aug. 18 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand is seeking a place at the negotiating table by ratifying by the end of November the global climate change accord agreed in Paris last year, fearing loss of influence over crucial rule-making if it doesn’t do so. “New...

Syft struggles to meet demand as turnaround gathers pace
Pattrick Smellie | Tue, 16 Aug 2016

By Pattrick Smellie Aug. 16 (BusinessDesk) - Christchurch-based gas analysis equipment maker Syft Technologies says demand for its high-tech instruments is starting to outstrip production capacity as the firm's recovery from bankruptcy in 2012 gathers pace. Listed on the Sh...

Sky TV merger to give Vodafone strangehold on internet TV, objectors say
Pattrick Smellie | Mon, 15 Aug 2016

By Pattrick Smellie Aug. 16 (BusinessDesk) - Allowing Sky Network Television to merge with the New Zealand operations of Vodafone will entrench Vodafone's control of premium content, particularly major sports events, and stifle competition in the internet and streaming TV mark...

Duelling experts: Wellington airport stands by its runway extension consultants
Pattrick Smellie | Sun, 14 Aug 2016

By Pattrick Smellie Aug. 15 (BusinessDesk) - Wellington International Airport is sticking by its experts' opinion on the potential demand for long-haul travel to and from the capital city and says a submission against a proposed runway extension prepared for airlines opposed t...

Contact posts little changed full-year earnings, beginnings of retail turnaround
Pattrick Smellie | Sun, 14 Aug 2016

By Pattrick Smellie Aug. 15 (BusinessDesk) - Contact Energy, the electricity and gas provider, posted little-changed full-year operating earnings amid signs that electricity demand is starting to grow after a long period of decline and that its investment in technology to gain...

Wellington runway extension plan 'implausible at best': opponents' expert report
Pattrick Smellie | Sun, 14 Aug 2016

By Pattrick Smellie Aug. 15 (BusinessDesk) - Wellington's airport runway extension initiative fails on the grounds that lower North Island and South Island travellers are already flying to long-haul destinations through Auckland or Christchurch and the region is not a magnet f...

Sky heading for trial against Fairfax over use of Olympics footage
Pattrick Smellie | Fri, 12 Aug 2016

By Pattrick Smellie Aug. 12 (BusinessDesk) - Sky Network Television is mulling a High Court challenge for use by Fairfax Media in New Zealand of video from the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Sky lost a High Court challenge against Fairfax's use of footage on the stuff.co....

UPDATE: Fairfax committed to minority stake through transition to merged NZ entity
Pattrick Smellie | Wed, 10 Aug 2016

(Adds intentions post-NZME merger, digital revenue growth, executive comments) By Pattrick Smellie Aug. 10 (BusinessDesk) - Sydney-based publisher Fairfax Media says it expects to hold a minority shareholding in the merged company it is seeking to create with current rival...

Supreme Court rejects Skinner and Rowley's last-chance appeal
Pattrick Smellie | Tue, 09 Aug 2016

By Pattrick Smellie Aug. 10 (BusinessDesk) - Two Wellington accountants serving prison terms on 110 counts of tax fraud have exhausted the last avenue of appeal against their convictions. The Supreme Court rejected the appeal by Barrie Skinner and David Rowley, who had soug...

Transmission pricing impasse deepens, Transpower proposes new answer
Pattrick Smellie | Tue, 09 Aug 2016

By Pattrick Smellie Aug. 9 (BusinessDesk) - Electricity producers, carriers and consumers remain as divided as ever over the Electricity Authority's latest attempt to reform how the national grid is paid for. The state-owned grid operator, Transpower, is proposing an altern...

Key insists Zespri's China rot problem not evidence of trade retaliation
Pattrick Smellie | Mon, 08 Aug 2016

By Pattrick Smellie Aug. 8 (BusinessDesk) - Prime Minister John Key says the Chinese government's decision to raise problems with rot in Zespri kiwifruit is not evidence of the kind of trade retaliation it was alleged could occur if New Zealand conducted an investigation into ...

AFT Pharmaceuticals affirms it is on track to break even within two years
Pattrick Smellie | Fri, 05 Aug 2016

By Pattrick Smellie Aug. 5 (BusinessDesk) - Drug developer AFT Pharmaceuticals still expects to break even in the 2018 or 2019 financial year, although it cannot be sure exactly when, founder and managing director Harley Atkinson told shareholders at the company's first annual...

Gender diversity row: 'still much work to do', says Clemenger boss, Livia Esterhazy
Pattrick Smellie | Mon, 01 Aug 2016

By Pattrick Smellie Aug. 1 (BusinessDesk) - Livia Esterhazy, who heads one of New Zealand's top advertising agencies, says there is "still much work to do" to improve gender diversity in the advertising industry, but "we have moved a long way in 15 years". In emailed commen...

House sale stats continue to mislead on foreign buyers, says Labour
Pattrick Smellie | Mon, 01 Aug 2016

By Pattrick Smellie Aug. 1 (BusinessDesk) - Statistics intended to allay concerns about the number of houses being bought by foreigners continue to show only about 3 percent of buyers are foreign tax residents, but the Labour Party insists the figures are misleading. Compil...

Ex-Tower CEO Sam Stubbs sets out to 'disrupt' high fees KiwiSaver plans
Pattrick Smellie | Sun, 31 Jul 2016

By Pattrick Smellie July 31 (BusinessDesk) - The former chief executive of KiwiSaver provider Tower, Sam Stubbs, is turning from gamekeeper to poacher with the launch of a new KiwiSaver fund that he says will charge fees at half the rate of most existing schemes and pledging t...

Moa stresses it has no undisclosed plans
Pattrick Smellie | Fri, 29 Jul 2016

By Pattrick Smellie July 29 (BusinessDesk) - Shareholders of NZX-listed beer-maker Moa Breweries have been assured again that the company has no "specific plans for corporate activity to talk about". Moa chairman Ashley Waugh used his speech to the annual meeting in Aucklan...

Investors press NZOG to resume dividends after return to profit
Pattrick Smellie | Fri, 29 Jul 2016

By Pattrick Smellie July 29 (BusinessDesk) - Investors in New Zealand Oil & Gas are pressing the company to resume paying dividends now that it is profitable again and generating imputation credits. In briefings for investment analysts and media on the Wellington-based comp...

Bigger, denser, less rule-bound Auckland recommended in draft Unitary Plan
Pattrick Smellie | Wed, 27 Jul 2016

By Pattrick Smellie July 27 (BusinessDesk) - Auckland will be more densely populated, have a 30 percent larger new urban area and a far less prescriptive set of rules for new residential developments than the plan put forward by the Auckland Council, if recommendations of an i...

Govt seeking business and philanthropic boost for predator-free policy
Pattrick Smellie | Mon, 25 Jul 2016

By Pattrick Smellie July 25 (BusinessDesk) - The government is seeking funding from businesses and philanthropists to support its "aspirational" policy, announced today, to make New Zealand predator-free by 2050. In a bid to shore up its environmental credentials, a phalanx...


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